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Tech Focus: Cloud services

Cloud computing

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A round-up of the latest cloud technology and software available to researchers using HPC and AI

Cloud computing provides huge potential to scientists and researchers, who can use the technology to access computing resources or new and emerging technology. Cloud can also help to facilitate collaboration, help organisations scale quickly and provide security and ease of use for domain experts accessing complex computing architectures – enabling researchers to get the most out of their investment in computing resources.

Cloud technology has reached a maturity level that makes it appealing to high-performance computing (HPC) users, lab scientists and engineers. Whether using public or hybrid cloud, the technology offers flexibility for users who can create or ‘spin up’ nodes with specific architectural requirements or use cloud bursting to increase the capacity of their in-house infrastructure. It can also increase the agility of a company that shares data over multiple sites.

Cloud provides organisations access to emerging technologies such as quantum computing hardware without the investment in prototype technologies. Users can adopt a strategy to learn and understand how a computing system can impact their business using a pay-per-use model, which enables them to evaluate new technology and then scale as necessary.

In the past, one aspect of designing and procuring HPC systems was the need to create a balanced architecture. This means looking at the kind of applications that will be run on a particular cluster to try and match the requirements of applications with the technologies that are needed. For example, some workloads require large memory nodes, high-speed storage or interconnects, or high-performance storage.

Cloud HPC allows people setting up this infrastructure to make more efficient
decisions, particularly if they are cloud bursting or developing a hybrid cloud strategy – as they can build their in-house resources to cater for 80% of the user requirements while using the cloud to provide GPUs or specific node architectures that suit a small number of users.

This allows all applications to benefit from this balanced architectural approach while still being able to cater to the specialised applications that have more niche requirements.

Cloud products on the market now:

Alibaba Cloud, founded in 2009, offers cloud computing and data processing capabilities as part of its online solutions. It services thousands of enterprises, developers, and government organisations in more than 200 countries and regions.

atNorth is a Nordic data centre services company that offers what it says are environmentally responsible, power-efficient, cost-optimised hosting facilities and HPC services. atNorth offers scalable HPC resources delivered as a service, enabling its users to focus on their simulation applications and calculations without worrying about the underlying HPC Infrastructure.

AWS provides scalable cloud infrastructure to run HPC applications. AWS says its virtually unlimited capacity allows engineers, researchers and HPC system owners to innovate beyond the limitations of on-premises HPC infrastructure. AWS delivers an integrated suite of services that provides everything needed to quickly and easily build and manage HPC clusters in the cloud to run the most compute-intensive workloads across various industry verticals.

Cirrascale Cloud Services is a cloud services provider of deep learning infrastructure solutions for autonomous vehicles, medical imaging, natural language processing and other deep learning workflows. The company was designed to focus on helping clients choose the right platform and performance criteria for their cloud service needs.

Define Tech provides cloud services for users to manage their entire infrastructure from a secure, container-driven orchestration platform. Users can bolt on bare-metal servers, add high-performance back-end storage and containerise mission-critical applications to save on costs, simplify infrastructure management and ease administration.

Google Cloud claims its HPC solutions are easy to use, built on the latest technology and cost-optimised to provide a flexible and powerful HPC foundation that clears the way for innovation. Google Cloud enables users to scale their teams and use pre-configured HPC virtual machines (VMs) to get jobs started quickly and with predictable performance. Google says its AI and machine learning (ML) capabilities allow users to generate deeper insights and explore their results.

The Grey Matter Connected Cloud is a pathway to ensure scientists and researchers are connected to the cloud. Grey Matter’s cloud solutions team can help users to build a cloud strategy and transform their business with the right licensing and cloud confi guration, mobile devices for business, end-to-end cloud migration services, and post-deployment training and support.

Gompute provides a flexible HPC platform for CAE workflows and simulations. Gompute’s compute node capacity delivered in the service is bare metal, equipped with a high-speed, low-latency interconnect and large memory options.

H66cloud from Hydro66 offers an enterprise-grade cloud environment, instant launch, high performance with GPU options and zero maintenance. The company says there is no single point of failure, 100% guaranteed uptime, no upfront costs and the opportunity to cancel at any time. The customer controls whether to pay in five-minute increments and only for what they run or longer commitments for known workloads. Real-time technical
support is available around the clock.

The Microsoft Azure HPC OnDemand Platform, or azhop, delivers an end-to-end deployment mechanism for a complete HPC cluster solution in Azure. Industry-standard tools, such as Terraform, Ansible and Packer, are used to provision and configure this environment. Each environment contains an Open OnDemandPortal for unified user access, remote shell access, remote visualisation access, job submission, file access and more, an active directory for user authentication and domain control, a PBS job scheduler and Azure Cycle Cloud to handle autoscaling of PBS nodes through PBS integration.

Nimbix offers cloud and on-premises HPC, giving engineers and scientists access to infrastructure and the software needed to build, compute, analyse, scale and deploy simulation and AI/ML/DL applications. The Nimbix Supercomputing Suite is an as-a-service solution for HPC, AI and quantum in the cloud. Nimbix says it provides customers with access to one of the broadest HPC and supercomputing portfolios, from hardware to bare metal as a service, and democratises advanced computing in the cloud across public and private data centres.

Penguin Computing’s Cloud Technology practice is focused on delivering software-defi ned architectures that enable users to run workloads regardless of where their compute or data resources reside. The company suggests these platforms deliver the advances of a Cloud 2.0 world, where workloads are delivered on simultaneously addressable resources. Its goal is to enable users to run workloads everywhere as a seamless user experience by removing the complexities of workload portability, inclusive workflows, data locality and remote visualisation. It recommends an open hybrid cloud as a strategy for architecting, developing and operating a hybrid mix of applications. Penguin says this offers the flexibility to run applications across environments – from bare metal to VMs, edge computing, private cloud and public clouds – without having to rebuild applications, retrain people, or maintain disparate environments.

ScaleCloud Enterprise from Scalematrix is designed to address the common trade-offs in cloud environments for compute-intensive workloads. The company says the product features Intel processors and HPE servers in cabinet technology.

UberCloud – a cloud simulation platform for engineers – helps engineers run their simulation tools with high performance and reliability in the cloud. The company says its self-service software platform lets users create scalable cloud clusters, all while using the native GUI of Ansys, COMSOL, CST, NUMECA and more. There is no loss of features with simplistic web portals that only support batch use cases.

This is not an exhaustive list. If you provide cloud services and would like your company included, please let us know at:


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